1) What Types of Computer Technician Degrees Exist and What are They Called?
Because the field of computer technology is ever evolving and changing, so too is the computer technician degree. With entries ranging from certificates to doctorate degrees, students can spend as little as a few weeks to eight years obtaining the degree that is right for them. To help narrow your search, we have included a wide range of degrees available in the area below.
Associate of Science in Computer Technology (A.S. Comp Tech): This undergraduate degree takes two years to earn and focuses on general aspects of computer technology. A good choice for the non-specified computer technician.
Associate in Information Technology (A.I.T.):
Information technology is a rapidly growing field and often involves the creation and management of databases, as well as other technical aspects. This degree is usually thought of as the starter to information technology.
Associate of Computer Engineering (A.S. Comp Eng):
A beginning entry level degree, this is for technicians who want to go into the entry level aspects of engineering.
Certification in Comp TIA A+:
The Comp TIA is one of the most recognized and utilized forms of computer technician certificates. It measures the skills learned and education of an entry level technology professional and even offers specialties in other areas such as security, server, and Linux.
Certification in Cisco:
Cisco remains one of the leaders in the computer technology field and is often utilized by many employers. The provider itself offers five different levels of certification from entry to architect.
Certification in Apple:
If looking to work with an employer that uses some, mostly, or all Mac computers, this is the certification for you. Computer technicians can choose to support the operating systems, servers, and much more.
Bachelor in Computer Science (B. Comp S.):
This four year undergraduate degree is another choice that covers general areas of science and computers. Several sub-specialties are also available.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems (B.S.C.I.S.):
Computer Information Systems is also another large area of computer technology. The bachelor’s is currently the most common offered undergraduate degree in the area.
Masters in Information Technology (M.I.T.):
The graduate degree takes six years to earn and focuses heavily on information systems. A benefit of the degree is that it is offered by many schools both online and in person.
Doctorate in Computer Science (Ph.D. Comp S.):
If looking to become a computer technician at the highest level, this degree may be for you. Taking six to eight years to complete, a Ph.D. is the only degree that can earn you the title of “Dr.”
Each degree can go onto have one or even several specialties. For example a Bachelor of Science in computers can be for networking, database administration, security, web development, and communications. Most schools are likely to offer several degrees and programs in computer technician, so it is important to do some digging before choosing the one that is right for you.
2) Where Can I Find Computer Technician Rankings?
Rankings for computer technician schools vary by what type of degree is being earned and at what level. For example, there are various standards for undergraduate degrees when being ranked by an entity such as “U.S. News and World Report.” They often use a cost versus quality of education but can overlook aspects such as demand for the degree in the private and public sectors. Be sure to identify the factors that are most important to you when looking through rankings, as those who do the ranking may not have the same priorities.
Graduate programs that offer a masters or doctorate degrees in computer technology are also capable of confusing potential students by offering online programs. Because a graduate degree is such a complex education to obtain, some feel that only an in-person program will do. However, with the growth of online schools, a degree obtained over the internet is becoming more and more accepted.
It is ultimately up to the student which degree or program they will choose by ranking schools according to their needs. Cost, time spent studying, appropriate learning facilities, and even student to teacher ratio can all be deciding factors when ranking a computer technician education.
3) Can I Transfer Computer Technician School Credits?
If you already have a college level degree or completed courses, transferring them to the appropriate school is of great importance. This can allow you to move along faster in a computer technician degree while saving hundreds to thousands of dollars. The trick is knowing what credits can transfer and where they can transfer to.
The easiest way to know the answer to the above is to speak with a counselor at the school in which you have earned the credits. It is their job to keep up to date with who is accepting what, what courses to transfer, and how many will transfer. For example, someone who wants to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Computer Technology from a university can begin at a junior or community college. Basics courses such as math, science, and history are taken at a fraction of the cost and then transferred to the university for the same degree given to those who took first and/or second year classes there.
Another option for transferring computer technician school credits is using one degree to supplement another. Someone with an associate’s degree in the sciences can apply that towards a bachelor in science or even vice versa and between specialties. If looking to get a masters or doctorate degree, having a four year undergraduate cannot only cut time spent studying by years but is sometimes a requirement. Generally, if one has an applicable bachelor’s degree, it takes two years to get a master’s or four years to get a doctorate depending on the degree or program.
Finally, the difference between nationally and regionally accredited computer technician schools can often be a point of contention. The U.S. Department of Education has a widely used database of accredited schools and agencies. When clicking on the search by institutional accrediting agency, note that there are two sections: national and regional. Know that just because a school is regionally accredited doesn’t mean that it is necessarily accredited nationally, which means that credits may or may not be transferred. Ultimately, the best way to avoid surprises when transferring credits is to contact the school beforehand so you can make an informed decision before taking a class.
4) What sorts of careers are common for students with this degree?
Upon completing a computer technician degree or program, there are literally hundreds of careers to choose from. Below, we have gathered just a few of them.
Computer Repair Technician: Ever had a computer freeze or break down on you? These are the professionals that fix them. The job usually requires an associate’s degree or certification.
Computer Technical Support Specialist: These techs work on a more full time basis and are often employed in the information technology side of a business. Support may come in the form of in person, over the phone, or over the web.
Network Support Technician:
The entire computer system is the focus of this tech. Servers, security, and more are often part of the job.
They ensure the efficient operation of a computer system and often anticipate problems before they happen. Design, software, security, and more are involved in this career.
Computer Security Specialist:
Stopping hackers, viruses, etc. is the main focus of this career. They are responsible for installing the security software, monitoring for break-ins, and even identifying vulnerabilities in the system.
Because even mom and pop stores have a website nowadays, web developers are more in demand. They plan and implement the entire website from homepage to the latest updates.
These computer technicians determine ways to store, organize, analyze, use, and present data. Switching from old to new databases or maintaining internet access are just some of the tasks assigned to them.
They work on the more mechanical aspect of computers. Often having the ability to pull them apart and put them back together, computer engineers can also be tasked with designing and building a computer from the ground up.
Computer Systems Programmer:
Once a computer has been built, it must be programmed. Different from an engineer, the programmer actually writes software and programs it into the computer.
If a computer is built fine, the software is okay, but it needs to be updated, a developer may be tasked with this. The upgrading and cost control aspects of the job are often found.
As the technology changes, so too will the careers available. With Microsoft, Apple, and Linux constantly competing with each other, a computer technician who knows more than one can also move ahead of the others. Most employers require some form of education, typically an associate’s degree, for entry level positions. Those looking to start in a more managerial or developmental role can often be asked for a graduate degree. Certifications in one or many areas may also be asked of by a potential employer.
5) How Do I Become a Computer Technician?
If you want to be a computer technician, a degree is usually required at the associate level or higher. In order to obtain this or any undergraduate degree, students must apply to a postsecondary institution, college, or university. The application almost always requires a high school diploma or equivalent, entry level exams, or even a minimum grade point average.
Certification in a relevant computer technician area can also be an important step. One of the most common certifications is the Comp TIA A+. It requires the passing of the Essentials and Practical Application exams, each of which consist of 100 questions and take about 90 minutes each to complete. They recommend the candidate have a relevant education and 500 hours of hands on experience in the field or laboratory. Visit the site to get more information, such as pricing or to look at practice questions. You can also view information on the other ten certifications they offer.
The above is by no means the only certification offered in computer technology. Another popular choice is the Cisco Certification. Everyone from engineers to security administrators may be asked to obtain this certification. They offer them in the entry, associate, professional, expert, architect, and specialist level. Take the “Is it for you?” quiz to learn more. If you know which certification you need, check with the vendor itself.
If you know what kind of computer technician career you would like, research it a little more. Look over those who are hiring in the area you would like to work in and see what their requirements are. They may ask for anywhere from a certification for entry level positions to a doctorate degree for the managerial. If you currently are employed in an area of computer technology or have a department and can make a lateral move, check with your supervisor. The cost of an advanced education or relevant certification may be shouldered if not paid for entirely by them.
6) What is the Average Salary for a Computer Technician?
As with all careers, whether or not you work full or part time hugely affects pay. Those who work as a computer repair technician on a part time basis in a superstore, as a sub-contractor, or other area usually make $13.35 per hour according to Payscale. They are also eligible for overtime pay and bonuses for completing work on or ahead of schedules. Although many full time employees may not qualify for overtime pay, bonuses, health insurance, and other benefits can be factored in.
Another common career for someone with an education as a computer technician is network support technician. Their median pay ranges from $30,315 to $47,384 with the average at $38,849. Other similar careers include computer technical support specialist and system administrator with average annual salaries of $41,782 and $51,584, respectively. Factors such as experience, employer, and location are most likely to influence how much a career can pay.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics includes this sort of data when factoring in their average salaries for computer network, systems, and database administrators. The highest paying employers for administrators were management and computer system design companies with offerings a little higher than $70,000. Collegiate, elementary, and secondary schools were the lowest paying employers offering an average annual salary of about $56,500.
If looking to learn more about the highest paying computer technician jobs, check out security, engineer, or chief information officer. Often earning over six figures per year in average annual salary, they are required to have everything from a Ph.D. to the ability to hack into a well-guarded system. Security computer technicians can work exclusively for one company or hire themselves out as individuals to test the systems of those who hire them. Because computer engineers are involved in both the designing and building of a system, the time and knowledge they put into their work is invaluable. The chief information officer often runs the entire information technology department of a company and is tasked with the overall performance of the computer systems, which requires loads of education and experience, but can also pay very well.
Paying for college can be a daunting task, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing an education in a field you truly want to go into. The best course of action is to apply to many schools, even if they have an application fee, to see which ones you get into. After being accepted, fill out the FAFSA and any other financial aid forms asked of you. If turned in by deadline, the school will tell you how much tuition will cost out of pocket, which can make choosing one far easier.
Many new students can feel overwhelmed by the process, but the counseling and financial aid offices at just about every school are tasked with easing student’s fears and answering questions. If you need help filling out a form, contact them or visit the website associated with the form. Do not pay anyone for their help in filling out a FAFSA or other government form, as many professionals will do it for free.
Also use caution when and if taking out a student loan. Unlike a scholarship or grant, it is money that does have to be paid back. Once qualified, a student can receive money to be applied towards tuition, books, and other expenses. It does not have to be repaid until graduation and can often have a low interest rate. However, many are dependent upon graduation and can also require a minimum grade point average.
Computer Technician is the only resource dedicated to providing individuals interested in becoming a computer technician with unbiased information about different degree and school options as well as career, job and salary information. To that end, we provide an updated FAQ as well as the only comprehensive database of computer technician schools on the web.